Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Towards a bigger, better broadband future



Broadband deployment in the U.S. is at best disappointing and at worst a crisis. The United States lags behind other countries in broadband uptake per capita, ranked 15th in the latest Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and Development (OECD) data. While consumers in Sweden and Japan are starting to zoom ahead with 20 and even 90 megabit/second connections delivered over fiber connections, U.S. consumers pay more for less, with only DSL and cable available in most markets. Some rural areas lack broadband altogether.

At a pre-conference yesterday before the “State of the Net” in Washington, D.C., the nonprofit association EDUCAUSE released a thoughtful proposal for how to achieve a better broadband future:

“[T]his paper proposes the creation of a new federal Universal Broadband Fund (UBF) that, together with matching funds from the states and the private and/or public sector, should be used to build open, big broadband networks of at least 100 Mbps (scalable upwards to 1 Gbps) to every home and business by 2012. U.S. state governors and foreign heads of state have found the resources to subsidize broadband deployment; the U.S. federal government should as well.”

Though some dispute how bad U.S. consumers have it, everyone can agree that the U.S. can – and should – do much better. Deploying faster, universal, and ubiquitous broadband is essential to sustaining the Internet as an engine for economic growth, innovation, and social discourse. Whether or not one agrees with EDUCAUSE’s particular strategy, the paper demonstrates that a clear, concerted national broadband strategy of some kind is required to reach that bigger, better broadband future.

You can read the whole paper here.

5 comments:

Peter A. Stinson said...

And meanwhile, in Beaumont, Texas, Time Warner Cable wants to charge by the byte?

This is a move backward, is it not?

drb said...

Derek,

Here in California, Governor Schwarzenegger's broadband task force recently released the most thorough analysis of broadband access and use ever conducted in the US.

The task force found that 96% of Californians already have access to wireline broadband, but only 56% subscribe.

The policy strategy should focus on increasing demand for broadband (through consumer-focused incentives).

Why should taxpayers subsidize AT&T to increase supply when they can't afford to subscribe to the services already available to them?

Wyatt said...

With regards to California, not all states have the availability to connect to broadband.

The ability to connect needs to be worked on either first or in conjunction with promoting subscription to broadband services.

However first we need to conduct an inventory of broadband penetration and broadband capacity nationwide. Similar to that which has already been completed in California and Kentucky. This will be the first logical step before building or trying to obtain subscribers.

Orphan said...

Derek, you must've not gone to the panel yesterday at the conference where a rep from the OECD, among other panelists, mentioned that the particular metric you're citing--broadband uptake per capita-- isn't particularly meaningful when used in precisely the way you've just used it.

It doesn't, for example, take into account some pretty basic statistical controls like population profiles or population density. When you compare Sweden, Korea, or Japan to individual US states with similar demographic profiles and geographic characteristics, the picture is MUCH changed.

The way you've used that number is basically the same as saying that Japanese airlines are much better than US airlines, because you can can fly from one side of Japan to the other much faster than you can fly from one side of the US to the other.

Japan is much smaller than we are. Loop distances are shorter, populations are denser, and even "remote" residents in Japan are reasonably easy to reach. You've compared apples to baseballs and found one of them wanting, which just doesn't make much sense.

Darnell Clayton said...

I just had a bad feeling about this post.

Did Google just lose the bid to Verizon? Or can I do a victory dance? :-)

~Darnell

PS

Hey Google, now that Blogger has embraced OpenID, would you consider turning it on for your comment section for your blog?